Robotic cats substitute tranquillisers in home for elderly with dementia

This is nice and it works although initially it looks sad and a bit bizarre. Ninety-nine dollar robotic cats manufactured by Hasbro have proved to be effective in calming down residents of a care home even if they know that the cat is a robot. Sometimes they don’t realise which is testament to the quality of this robotic cat which comes in three coat types: silver, orange tabby and white. They are called “Joy for All Companion Pets”.

Robotic cat calms lady with dementia -- Photo by Christian Hansen for The New York Times
Robotic cat calms lady with dementia — Photo by Christian Hansen for The New York Times
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The New York Times reports on the residents of Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx.

The cat calmed down a seventy-year-old resident who got into a panic searching for her deceased parents. Normally a tranquilliser would have been administered but when handed her robotic cat she calmed down. If this cat can do that it is superior to tranquillisers because there are no side effects and the calming effect is more rapid than for pills. It seems that the lady in question has adopted this cat and treats it as her own.

Mary Farkas the Director of Therapeutic Activities says that many of the residents have formed close bonds with their robotic cats. This not only calms but empowers the residents.

“For a lot of our residents, it’s a chance to be a caregiver, and to be in an active, empowered role again….A lot of times this disease causes passivity, and we’re always looking for ways to combat that.”

Another residential care home, Kingsway Arms Nursing Center, Schenectady, NY acquired its fist cat this year. The recreation director says it has worked a treat on a woman who became anxious when trying to stand up. The lady petted the cat and spoke to it in her native language, French.

Whatever people think of this it works and it is very useful. It is the power of the domestic cat coming through in a robot, which we know is great for lowering blood pressure and slowing us down.

These robots purr and generally react in natural ways such as slow blinking when spoken to. Looking to the future, you can see that there may well be a time when robotic cats substitute the real thing in ordinary homes. Now that is something that has the potential for being a bad development. It would futher distance people from nature.

3 thoughts on “Robotic cats substitute tranquillisers in home for elderly with dementia”

  1. Great that this works and I’m for it, however the real thing can too. I took care of my mother in her last years, and while I did so many things to keep her active and engaged in life as best she could, My cats Pete and Polar did the trick for her. She was never warm to animals, thought they were dirty and dangerous and I never argued with her. She became immobile and demented. These two cats noticed and paid her visits. They patiently convinced her that they were her friend, and this photo tells it all. I don’t believe in miracles, but this would be one of them. The two cats didn’t especially like each other, but they teamed up to help mom. Polar is on the right on his back.


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